11.15.2009

"tailgate"

Today's MAotW is:

tailgate
Wait, what?

 "Tailgate" is not actually Italian, believe it or not, but it is actually a slang term for glissando (also known as "glissing" or "smearing"), or the unique ability of the trombone to slide between two notes. This term is used to denote a Dixieland style of smear. The Virgina Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary gives this etymology for the term "tailgate":
The name tailgate comes from the late 19th century when the trombone performers in Dixieland bands would often perform sitting on or over the "tailgate" of a horse-drawn wagon, facing backwards, while the other members of the band sat in the wagon bed in a parade or in a procession on the way to a funeral. By sitting on or over the "tailgate", the trombone player had ample room to move the trombone slide while performing frequent glissandos of the Dixieland jazz that often require the performer to extend the slide to its maximum length.
And here you thought tailgating only had to do with football gameday activities. Hah!

11.13.2009

Concert Review: Rodef Shalom

So in trying to figure out what to post this week, I realized that I had forgotten to write a review of the AWCB's yearly benefit concert for a local food pantry. And thus, you have my post for the week.

For this gig, I was lacking my usual stand partner (::coughbloggingpartnertoocough::), so I got the pleasure of sharing a stand with Trombone Andy (named thus to differentiate him from the 200 other people named Andy in the band). Aside from the awkwardness that comes with having someone not understand the inside jokes written as musical annotations, it was an excellent experience to play next to him, and I would do it again! As for the performance, in all it went extremely well -- plus we managed to raise a sizable donation of canned goods for the food pantry, which is the ultimate goal. The only musical complaint that I heard was "the saxophones were too loud", but this is a pretty standard complaint when it comes to saxophones... wait, did I type that in public?

The concert was set inside a social hall in a Jewish temple in an upscale neighborhood, and even though there is no stage or traditional concert lighting, most people in the band agree that this is one of our favorite places to play. The audience sits relatively close to us, we all have amazingly cushy chairs, and the acoustics are incredible. Combine all that with free cookies after the show and you've got a bunch of happy musicians.

Musical highlights: the trumpet section nailing the opening of Shostakovich's Festive Overture as the first sounds of the concert, an incredible solo horn performance in the Rondo from one of Strauss's horn concertos, the trombone section generally not failing at playing swing style licks, and the narrator for the piece A Nation's Strength forgetting (I think) that he was supposed to narrate during the piece and not just read the poem beforehand and walk away. Oh well -- it was a nice poem, and the music could stand on its own.

Did I mention that we played Shostakovich? \o/

11.10.2009

Driveby anime review #2: Princess Resurrection

It’s taken me a long time to get through Princess Resurrection, for a lot of reasons many of which have nothing to do with the anime itself. However, the fact that it’s a bizarre show that doesn’t seem to know what its audience is has a lot to do with the number of times that I’d go weeks in between viewings as well.

The basic plot is this. Hiro, a kid of indeterminate age (could be anywhere from 10 to maybe 18, thanks art department!) dies trying to save a blond haired hottie from certain doom. She turns out to be the princess of the underworld, and resurrects him out of some sort of twisted sense of… something. We’re never really clear on why she would do something like that. The show takes on more or less a monster of the week format after that, kind of a Scooby-Doo “I’d’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for your attractive female retainers!” kind of feel, as various supernatural beings try to take over princessship of the underworld. The problem is that it has this juvenile structure with dialogue and execution to match laid over some pretty suggestive character designs and occasional plot elements, like it’s directed at the “18-35 year old male who never matured past 13” demographic. Ok, sure, I guess that constitutes most of the anime fans I know, but still. At points it almost takes on a reverse harem feel for all the women fighting over whom Hiro needs to serve. Add to all this clich├ęd cacophony some poor animation, and you’ve got an ok show that just doesn’t quite click on any important level.

Bottom line: pretty good idea, should be a solid show, but never seems to figure out what it wants to be. Lots of fun with maid outfits, though.

Obligatory haiku:
Gothic robot maids
Underage slutty cat girls
What does huga mean?

11.08.2009

"ffz", "sffz", and "sff"

Today's Musical Annotation of the week is actually three annotations, but we'll start with...

ffz

I think most musicians get the idea when they see two Fs together, and when there's a Z involved, it usually means to smack the hell out of something. 

ffz is an abbreviation for "forzando" or "forzato". It basically means to play the note at the indicated dynamic (ff in this case) but with emphasis, as though it had a strong accent mark over it. 

Now, this term can be confused with two others:

sffz


sff

sffz is an abbreviation for "sforzato", which is to play at the dynamic level written (ff) and with a strong accent and at full duration, as below.


sff is an abbreviation for "sforzando", which is to play at the dynamic level written (again, ff) but with a typical accent mark, as shown below.

 So just remember -- if it's got a Z, it means it's a strong accent (Z looks kind of like a backwards S, and even the sound Z makes sounds stronger than an S, right?). If it's got an S and a Z, it means to play a long, strong accent (because the abbreviation is longer, and has that Z again). If it's just got an S, it means to play it like a regular accent (strong, but not as strong as a Z).


11.06.2009

on "ee"

My old friend from the OMEA Northeast Ohio Honors Orchestra, John Shanks, made the following comment on Facebook regarding my post a couple of weeks ago on "ta" versus "toe" :
A problem with "toe" is (and I have struggled with this) that if this isn't specifically taught as a "low" concept, it can really mess up the sound in the high register. The oral cavity should not be the same for C5 as it is for C2. Mine was, and it was making me engage the throat to reduce the size of the air column, and that added way too much complexity. "Tee" for C5 is much simpler than "toe".

tl;dr - articulation is separate from vowel sound which should vary according to range

 I've been really thinking about this and working with the concept in my practice sessions lately. Wouldn't you know it? All along, I think my tongue has been screwing up my high range. I have written before about my issues with my high range, and Jon has too, and one little comment on Facebook has really made a big difference. I started raising the back of my tongue when I ascend in my range, and not only is my sound clearer and sweeter up there, but the notes come out much more easily. I was even squealing away on an F5 today like I haven't spent months trying to find it.

Training myself to put my tongue in the "ee" position will be the hard part, but at least I'm on the way.

11.05.2009

YouTube o' teh... what the...?!

This clip is entirely worth it to watch Jordan Staal (of my beloved Penguins) talk about his brother Mark dressed up as Pippi Longstocking. Also, what's up with Alex Goligoski and the porn 'stache?

Hockey players talk about their childhood Halloween costumes here:

11.03.2009

Greetings from the mothership: a partial manifesto

This one technician who formerly worked for me used to joke that I would end up in my basement writing a manifesto someday. Well, I'm in the attic, but otherwise, here we are!

So I'm on the mothership. It's nice here, except somewhat filthier than I had imagined, a little more Vogon than Federation of Planets. But I'll get to that. We get pudding every now and then, if we're good, and colon scrubs from the head reptoid if we're bad. (I don't like the head reptoid, but don't tell, because I like the colon scrubs less!) And we've got wifi, which is pretty cool, although I'm not completely sure that the wifi isn't also some sort of mind control. I mean, you've got to have a pretty serious business router to get any sort of decent connection from low orbit, but that thing looks like it could double as a thoroughly impractical troop carrying tank like thing.

Anyway, I have a few things I want to accomplish while I'm here, and I was thinking, hey! I ought to blog about some of them! In public even! So, here's the list of things I want to do that might actually end up on this blog, although I do not guarantee that they will.

1. Prepare the Grondahl Concerto for Trombone, Hovhaness Prayer of St. Gregory, and excerpts from Bolero and Ride of the Valkyie as if I've got an audition coming up. Expect ruminations on these. I know, everybody plays the Grondahl, and yes, I'm thinking about Bolero because I'm a showoff, but there actually have been auditions for community-level groups around here that asked for Ride and Bolero, so it's practical.
2. Chew through some of my anime backlog. I've got a ton of dvds sitting around wondering why I don't love them anymore. And since I've been reduced to my cd and dvd collection by some people (cough) I might as well deserve it, right? Expect some driveby reviews.
3. Clean the mothership from stem to stern, from keel to topsail. With fire, as necessary.
4. Start, and maybe finish, Final Fantasy VIII. And beat that lousy bastard in the undersea research complex.

There are some other, broader, more important goals, but I think those are the ones I'm likely to talk about here. So without further ado... I'm going to go do something.

See you next time the reptoids aren't looking!

11.01.2009

"singhiozzando"

Today's MAotW (Musical Annotation of the Week) is:

singhiozzando

In my time as a trombonist, I don't think I've ever seen this marking, but perusing my dictionary this week I found it there waiting for me. It means to play the marked passage "in the manner of sobbing", usually characterized by a gliding between notes. 

The trombone being what it is, you'd think we'd get to play singhiozzando at least sometime -- we're pros at gliding! Maybe composers just don't think we can pull off the "sobbing" effect. Sigh!